President Joe Biden faced off against former President Donald Trump in a heated debate Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia, where both had a lot to say about the economy.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper started the evening with the top concern facing Americans: our economy. “President Biden, inflation has slowed, but prices remain high. Since you took office, the price of essentials has increased. For example, a basket of groceries that cost $100 then, now costs more than $120; and typical home prices have jumped more than 30 percent,” Tapper stated. “What do you say to voters who feel they are worse off under your presidency than they were under President Trump?”

Biden’s response focused on how he believes the Trump administration left the economy in freefall during the COVID-19 pandemic. This occurred when Biden started his term. He says he plans to “make sure that we reduce the price of housing. We’re going to make sure we build 2 million new units. We’re going to make sure we cap rents, so corporate greed can’t take over,” but does not appear to have done this during his presidency thus far. (TAKE A POLL: What Is the Most Pressing Political Issue Facing Our Country Today?)

Trump was asked the same question. “We got hit with COVID. And when we did, we spent the money necessary so we wouldn’t end up in a Great Depression the likes of which we had in 1929. By the time we finished – so we did a great job. We got a lot of credit for the economy, a lot of credit for the military, and no wars and so many other things. Everything was rocking good,” he replied in part. He also noted that the jobs Biden is referring to are “bounceback jobs” that returned after the country was locked down during the pandemic.


Biden doubled down, blaming Trump for “the largest tax cut in American history.” Trump noted that this was correct, and he also cut regulations, which created new jobs. “He also said he inherited 9 percent inflation. No, he inherited almost no inflation and it stayed that way for 14 months. And then it blew up under his leadership, because they spent money like a bunch of people that didn’t know what they were doing. And they don’t know what they were doing,” Trump said of inflation over the last several years. (TAKE A POLL: Are You Concerned About the National Debt and Its Implications For Future Generations?)

When moderator Dana Bash asked Biden what he’d like to say to voters who are disappointed in his administration’s handling of the economy and inflation, he replied. “I don’t blame them for being disappointed. Inflation is still hurting them badly. For example, I provided for the idea that any black family, first time home buyer should get a $10,000 tax credit to be able to buy their first home so they can get started.

“I made sure that we’re in a situation where all those black families and those black individuals who provided had to take out student loans that were ballooning, that if they were engaged in nursing and anything having to do with volunteerism, if they paid their bills for 10 years on their student debt, all the rest was forgiven after 10 years. Millions have benefited from that and we’re going to do a whole lot more for black families.” (TAKE A POLL: Do You Support the Idea of a Four-Day Workweek to Enhance Work-Life Balance?)

Shortly after these statements, Biden said, “There was no inflation when I became president. You know why? The economy was flat on its back. 15 percent unemployment, he decimated the economy, absolutely decimated the economy. That’s why there was no inflation at the time.” The time in question was during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most businesses were forced to close due to government mandates.

You can read the full debate transcript here.

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